Cricket Uncut

A group blog run by professional cricket writers from across the world

Monday, March 14, 2005

My Bengali secret

There was a secret I brought to Kolkata with me, that I thought might help me: I can speak Bengali.

From my name, most people assume that I must be a Punjabi or a UP-ite, but my mother is Bengali, my father was born in Lahore but brought up in Kolkata, and I grew up speaking Bengali at home. So when Bongs bitch about me in my presence, I can understand just what they're saying.

Well, so I was checking in at the Great Eastern Hotel, and as I was standing at reception, one of the two ladies there said to the other: "a-kay chhoto ghaur ta diye dao." ("Give him the small room.") I immediately remarked, "na, please aamaake chhoto ghaur ta na deen." ("No, please don't give me the small room.") The ladies burst out laughing, and the first one said, "Eta tho mooshkeel hoye gaalo." ("Now we're in trouble.") I got a big room.

Later, sitting in a cab on the way to Park Street, I thought I'd try bonding with the taxi driver, and started speaking to him in Bengali. After a couple of sentences I realised that he couldn't understand a word of what I was saying, and was a migrant from Bihar. Exactly the same thing happened to me on the cab going back to the hotel. (I had a similar experience when I first went to New York, and the first couple of stores I entered were manned by Latinos who couldn't speak English properly. I assume that was an aberration, as was this, presumably.)

So if you're a Bong, and you want to bitch about me in my presence, well, you know my secret. But go ahead anyway; it's fun.
amit varma, 11:00 PM| email this to a friend | permalink | homepage